An Assessment of Environmental Concerns in the Leather Industry and Proposed Remedies: a Case Study of Pakistan
In the leather sector different types of finished leather is prepared from salted raw skins. There are about 596 tanneries in Pakistan in the formal sector and more than 90% of their product is exported. About 130 different types of chemicals are used in leather manufacturing which ranges from common salt (Sodium Chloride) to very expensive Chrome Sulphate. The chrome tanning process is widely employed in Pakistan. Many chemicals are used to prepare hides for tanning and after performing their function these chemicals find their way into the environment. All three categories of waste, i.e. gaseous, liquid, and solid are generated from the tanneries.The paper aims to address the environmental pollution problems in the leather-manufacturing sector of Pakistan. It is based on findings of Environmental Audit of 4 tanneries carried out by Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Pakistan under Environmental Technology Program for Industry (ETPI) Project. Based on this environmental audit an effort has been made to assess the nature and extent of the environmental problems and to develop solutions for tanning industry in Pakistani context. The paper gives an overview about the environmental issues of tanneries along with possible cost-effective remedies including recycling of different wastes to solve these problems. This study is aimed at helping the local tanneries to comply with National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS), forthcoming ISO14000, and to enable them to produce environmentally clean product.